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The Reluctant Scholar – Chapter 5.6

Brig had fallen asleep but awoke when he heard the Buddha unlocking the gate to their apartment. He sat up and rubbed his eyes as he listened to the Buddha slide the heavy iron door open, and unlock the second wooden door to their apartment. The door’s hinges squeaked as the Buddha pushed through. He was carrying several bags of groceries and waddled into the kitchen.

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“Prophet!” the Buddha yelled from the kitchen.

“Buddha!” Brig answered.

“How are you feeling?”

Brig stood up from the bed, amazed at how good he felt. “Good!” Brig stated emphatically. “Really good!” He walked into the front room and watched as the Buddha put away the groceries. “Fuckin’ great actually. What the hell did you give me?”

“Ancient chinese secret.”

Brig laughed, “Dude, I think your English is better than you let on.”

“Me no speaky Englishy.”

“Seriously, dude. What was that? I feel fantastic, though a little loopy.”

“I don’t know what they’re called, but they’re strong.”

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Brig recalled how he had felt after taking the painkillers after he had hurt his back in a climbing accident several years ago. This feeling was in that neighborhood. “A painkiller?” Brig continued to probe.

“Yeah, something like that.”

“Me likey.”

“I only had those two, for my own emergencies. But, you looked so pathetic, lying there, wrapped around the toilet,” the Buddha laughed.

“Thanks, Elder. I feel good. I want to do something. Do you want to go see a movie?” Mission rules forbade missionaries to go into a movie theater. Just a few weeks ago, Brig would’ve been appalled at the suggestion of going to see a movie, now he was proposing it.

“Do you remember what I said about discretion?” Brig nodded that he did.

“I have fewer days than you have months.” the Buddha teased. In less than three weeks, the Buddha would retire as a missionary and Brig still had more than a year left. The thought depressed him.

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“Shit! You’re right. I am so screwed.”

“Relax. I’ve got you covered.”

“What do you mean you’ve got it covered? You’re leaving! I can’t do another year of real missionary work!” Brig panicked. “What are you going to do, take the President’s job? Knock he and Sister Woodley off?”

Brig chuckled as if this was the silliest thing he’d ever said. But Buddha didn’t laugh. He remained impassive, his expression flat. Straight-faced, Buddha calmly suggested, “It could happen.” A long awkward silence followed. “But it won’t. Can you imagine the scrutiny?” the Buddha laughed, returning the light mood. “Trust me. If you listen to me, you’ll finish your mission honorably and still be able to have a blast.”

“How?”

“We’ve only known each other for what? Almost three months. Have I ever let you down? Haven’t I always done what I said I would do?”

Brig thought about this for a minute. “Well. You told President Woodley that you would break the missionary baptism record. That doesn’t seem very likely anymore.”

“President Woodley can blow me. Is President Woodley my ‘Ride or Die?’  I’m talking about between you and me. Have I ever let YOU down?”

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“No.”

“All right then,” the Buddha concluded. “It’s all about baptisms. As long as your baptizing, President Woodley doesn’t give a fuck, and there are over six million infidels within ten kilometers of us.” The Buddha gasped and looked at his watch. “In fact, we have a meeting in fifteen minutes over at the church. A member has a friend she wants to introduce us to. Let’s go.”

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